Understanding and Managing GC/Client Relationships Effectively

We’ve talked a lot about how important it is for different project teams to collaborate effectively. It’s about time to talk about another important collaborative relationship on every construction project: the GC/client relationship.

This relationship affects everyone on the jobsite, so it’s important to start off on the right foot.

Tension vs. Collaboration

Tension between different team members on a jobsite can cause stress for everyone. Tension between GCs and their clients can be downright disastrous. When you’re already worried about sticking to your budget and schedule, friction with the client and conflicting personalities can cause major headaches.

On the other hand, a good GC/client relationship can make everything on the site much easier to deal with, even if you run into problems or delays. While nobody’s happy about blowing a schedule, budget or any of the other unforeseen problems that tend to come up on a project, having a client who understands can mean the difference between a little stress and a big nightmare.

So how do you make sure things go smoothly between yourself, your crew, and your client?

Be a Person You’d Want to do Business With

No one wants to do business with companies or people known for lying or inflating the truth. Building trust with your clients may start with references during the sales process, but that’s not where it ends. Your team can continue to build trust with clients by being honest and upfront about issues such as budget and scheduling. A client who’s kept in the loop about the project’s progress will feel much more secure than one who’s left to wonder if anything’s getting done at all. There are simple and quick ways to send informed progress reports to clients without taking hours out of your day.

You can also help improve this relationship by being honest if you don’t know the answer to a question — and then asking someone who does. The client will feel more confident, knowing that you took the time to find the right answer, rather than coming up with a guess.

Collaborate with Clients

Another way to improve client relations is to include them in the collaboration process on the project. A client who feels like a valued part of the planning team is less likely to cause friction than one left to wonder what’s going on each step of the way.

Communicating with your clients is one of the best ways to ensure a good relationship with them. Answer questions promptly, provide frequent status updates, and make sure your client understands what’s going on with the build. Keeping him informed before he starts chasing you down will reduce headaches for both of you.

Good communication helps strengthen the trust you’ve built with that customer. It also prevents the client from making assumptions about the project that build up expectations you can’t meet.

Over-Deliver

You might have heard the saying: “Under-promise, over-deliver.”  It’s a very simplified concept, but still valid. How you perform on a project has the biggest impact on current and future client relationships, as well as your reputation. Remember that your customers judge how much you value them by the job you do on their projects. Dedicate yourself to delivering the best work possible, within budget and schedule, and you’ll strengthen your client relationship.

Make mistakes, blow the budget without explanation, or cruise past the project’s due date, and you may well destroy that relationship. Your customers just want to know that they’ve made a good choice in hiring you, and that you value their input on their project. Treat them like a team member and take pride in your workmanship, and you’ll earn their trust and that’s a good thing for your business.